Arkhangelsk Oblast

Arch branding of the Arch region

This work means a lot for us and we love it. Two reasons: first is because it's our first large scale project that appeared to be the most successful one. Second is that Natalia ancestors lived here and she spent summers in between Arkhangelsk and Severodvinsk. Being made a tourist branding it is then made its way to become an official administrative brand of the whole region, used by the administration, approved by the residents, loved by tourists.

Client: Ministry of Culture of Arkhangelsk Oblast

Work: research, branding, design

This was my very first project in place branding. And, the largest one when seen from the perspective of 10 years ahead. I was very worried inside, yet in my life I always was into taking risks. Thanks to Oleg Moseev, who believed in final result and supported me. I always aimed for the best and that's why Arkhangelsk Oblast got that supremacy bloom inside its communication strategy.
Natalia Rybalchenko
Arkhangelsk is the largest region in the western part of Russia. There are vast expanses of woods and lakes. When you think of Russian North, you probably could find all of it in Arkhangelsk Oblast. Here, old wooden traditional northern architecture is kept together with building modern nuclear submarines in Severodvinsk that move in depths, while rockets fly high in the skies from the starport in Plesetsk.
First research of such scale
For the beginning of creating the brand for the largest region our team had to travel across the whole territory, meet communitites, interact with residents, enjoy the nature, consume local cousine and observe the wonders of the wooden architecture.
  • Discussion platform

    Took place while helding International Tourism Forum in 2015, may
  • 5 strategic sessions

    1. Onega district
    2. Konosha district
    3. Kargopol
    4. Young students
    5. Tourism industry
  • 2 round tables with media

    1. Onega
    2. Kargopol
  • more than 15 interviews

    1. Local entrepreneurs
    2. Administration
The symbolic capital of the whole region was immense. It was difficult to dream of something so big, that it could cover all the number of insights we got:
  • Largest region in the European western part of Russia
  • White Sea
  • Gateway to Arctic
  • Pomory
  • Plesetsk spaceport
  • Severodvinsk submarines
  • Wooden architecture
  • Historical shipyards
  • Michael Lomonosov
  • Solovki monastery
  • Inside perception problems

    1. Local people not proud of their land
    2. Head to leave it to capital cities
  • Outside perception problems

    1. No recognizable idea that unifies territory
    2. Region represents the number of locations not connected with each other in mind
    3. People do not realize the scale of the largest region in European part of Russia
    4. Locations outside of Arkhangelsk not associated with the region
  • Unifying ideas

    1. Overcoming
    2. The will of the people
    3. Cold north vs warm heart
    4. Real nature, men, food
    5. Extremes
The idea of extremes and high contrasts catched me most of all. Maybe its all my pomor ancestors, who were highly proud people, never been serf peasants, not feeling fear of overcoming the most difficulties. I was excited with my first request of such scale and wanted to overcome it worthy of my predecessors.
Natalia Rybalchenko
The prefix "Arch" in Arkhangelskaya Oblast has found an immediate response in people's mind, who were honored to be a part of some supreme location.
Arch (greek: άρχι) is the prefix meaning seniority, supremacy, the highest degree of something
Arch important communications
The Arkhangelsk region is a territory of maximum expression of nature, technology and strength of spirit
  • Archangelsk

    The town of Archangels, the first Russia's international gate to ocean, world
  • Architecture

    Traditional russian architecture, wooden churches, heavens
  • Arch will

    Will of the pomor people, who used to overcome the difficulties
  • Arch man

    Michael Lomonosov, who studied and explored the mysteries of the world
  • Archive of the Russian culture

    Most of the traditions, crafts, receipts are kept till nowadays
  • Arch technologies

    From Severodvinsk submarines in the depths to the Plesetsk skyrockets in the heights
  • Arch Arctic

    First expiditions to Arctic took place. The most close location from Moscow
  • Archipelago Solovki

    One of the most important places for Orthodox life
The "Arch" idea that sounded so fresh and modern appeared to be too difficult for common people recognition and soon after was replaced with the more clear message: "Open north", that manifested the opennes towards tourists and the requests. That left the brand split: in theory people liked the "Arch" idea, yet in practice they sticked to the more simple "Open north" one. Even after almost 10 years since launch, this bifurcation remained.
Natalia Rybalchenko
Open North
Arch workshop of designers
As a boost of a fresh start, we asked Leonid Slavin, designer and lecturer at British Higher School of Art and Design held the workshop with designer students for finding out the visuals of how the brand should look like. We have recorded a short video on how it was:
  • 4 hours

    The most productive 4 hours we can remember at the moment
  • 25 designers

    Young motivated designers from the course, lead by Leonid Slavin
  • 10 concepts

    There were no limitations on the expressive means, mostly all had been sketched by hand
Workshop at British Higher School of Art and Design feat Leonid Slavin
I'd say, that there were no visual ideas that went to the production cycle from within workshop. Yet the open communication helped us with making this work recognizable among the design community.
Ivan Vetrov
Arch visual inspirations
Design is relatively easy to work with, thus it can be used on many elements and be widespread.
  • Bird of happiness
    Keeps at home
  • Painted heavens
    Unique church ceilings
  • Wooden mills
    Marketing Director
  • Submarines
    To the depths from Severodvinsk
  • Rockets
    To the heights from Plesetsk
  • Wooden architecture
    Kenozersky national park
Arch identity
Design is relatively easy to work with, thus it can be used on many elements and be widespread.
Arkhangelsk Oblast logo
What is north actually is? A snowflake, maybe a star. I've began with that. Then a rocket appeared inside a snowflake, then there was a church. All of a sudden, I came up with the traditional arkhangelsk wooden bird of happiness that could transform the whole snowflake logo in some sort of a constructor with all the components hidden inside. So the logo turned out to be full of meanings.
Ivan Vetrov
We have created a unique type with carved strong glyphset, intended to deliver pomor vibe.
The Architype, designed by Ivan Vetrov is intended to deliver northern pomor vibe
Arch elements
Symbol capital of Arkhangelsk Oblast is put into the design system of icons. They are made to highlight one of the brand components.
15 archcomponents of Arkhangelskaya Oblast
Here's how these icons correspond with reality
Arkh guides
Finally, we've collected all the do's and dont's in one document for the prosper of Arkhangelsk Oblast. Lately it was used by the tourist center and some entrepreneurs.
Set of bright images that proove the awesomeness of the design we've made (in theory)
Arch communication
The citations of the local geniuses had been used to promote and speak for Arkhangelsk most noted values. These citation were lately produced as magnets. tourist portal
Awesome guys at F5 Studio have made award winning tourist portal that is so well-thought and easy to use that had became some sort of a standart industry of its kind.
Excellence in user experience for tourism planning online, made by F5 Studio
Looking arch good!
Brand visuals are manifested on both federal and regional scale exhibitions. Logo becomes recognizable, yet there are no single communication, that can be seen on the VDNKh "Russia expo" down below with a series of messages, not connected with each other. The same with visuals: more like a mixed cocktail.
Arctic starts here, strong north — strong country, open north: branding is all about single vector message, not about the plenty ones.
On the contrary, here are more complex local Arkhangelsk exhibitions of regional achievements: note the visual correlation and neatness.
Exhibitions in Arkhangelsk looking more accurate in terms of visual sustainability
Arch 80th anniversary
In 2017 Arkhangelsk Oblast celebrated 80th anniversary with the show of series of posters right in the center of Arkhangelsk on the fence of Lomonosov Drama theater. Main events that took place in the region had been put in the chronological order and looked nice.
The arch opening section of the exhibition sets the counter-clockwise route around the Lomonosov Drama Theater
Set of 40+ banners on the fence of the Lomonosov Drama Theater in Arkhangelsk, late 2017
Further life with 42design studio
Working with Arkhangelsk Oblast lead us to getting in touch with awesome local designer, Viktor. He is that top of the iceberg sort of professional, who works with the most entitled museums, book design, maps and cares about all the fonts he used. Being a partner of Arkhangelsk tourist center, he created a few awesome projects for the region that we can support with ave.

Viktor Tyapkov, founder of 42 design studio, based in Arkhangelsk. Visit their vk
Presentation magazine on the Arkhangelsk Oblast for the Heritage of the North publishing house (made by Viktor Tyapkov and his 42design team)
Map of Arkhangelsk and the whole region, as well (made in 42design by Viktor Tyapkov and Maria Balasheva)
Arkhangelsk branding today
To our delight, Akrhangelsk branding becomes more loved both by the administration and residents every single year. We could be happy, but we're not. We see problems of incompatibilities between the original idea, its visualisation and the message it delivers. Originally, meant to bring "Arch" values, it went to the more banal "Open North" meanings. The same with the visuals that hardly illustrate both these slogans inside.
We're looking closely after Arkhangelsk Oblast branding and stay in touch with the team that works with it, constantly making small touches and straightining the strategy we'd plan to deliver. Our aim is to cut the gap between idea, message and visual.
Natalia Rybalchenko
Arch mentions in media
  1. — the official tourist portal of Arkhangelsk Oblast
  2. Arkhangelsk brand being discussed on
  3. Insulting of Arkhangelsk residents and their traditions, — says Pravda Severa
  4. Natalia Rybalchenko interview on Arkhangelsk brands for Dostoyanie Severa
  5. 29ust talks on the new Arkhangelsk Region branding
  6. MK Arkhangelsk department is worried on the new brand of their region
  7. Arkhangelsk Oblast logo performs in Art.Lebedev business lynch
  8. Region29 mentions that new brand is liked by tourists
  9. Arkhangelsk branding on the website of its creator, Ivan Vetrov
  10. Viktor Tyapkov's 42design studio in Arkhangelsk, his vk
  11. Dostoyanie Severa has interview with Natalia on our brands in Arkhangelsk Oblast
  • Natalia Rybalchenko
    Brand strategist, researcher
  • Ivan Vetrov
    Art director, logo creator, designer (before 2017)
  • Igor Makovsky
    Designer (after 2017)
  • Oleg Moseev
    Tourism expert
  • Leonid Slavin
    Designer, held workshop in British Higher School of Art and Design
  • Viktor Tyapkov
    Arkhangelsk-based designer, founder of 42 design studio
  • Sveta Zenovskaya, Sveta Kornitskaya, Veronika Yanichek
    Thanks for love and care
More projects in Arkhangelsk Oblast